Egypt plans up to $7bn in international bonds in 2019-2020

Egypt’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product is on a downward trend and should drop to 77.5 percent by the end of June 2022. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Egypt plans up to $7bn in international bonds in 2019-2020

  • Egypt is interested in diversifying the currencies in which it issues its bonds to ensure hedging within the portfolio
  • Issuing sukuk, green bonds, yen or yuan bonds could allow Egypt to attract a new type of investor

CAIRO: Egypt intends to issue international bonds worth $3 billion $7 billion in the 2019-2020 financial year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Monday.
Egypt is also interested in diversifying the currencies in which it issues its bonds to ensure hedging within the portfolio, Maait said during an economic conference in Cairo.
The country has borrowed heavily from abroad since a $12 billion package was agreed. It faces a tough repayment schedule and a rising bill for oil imports.
Issuing sukuk, green bonds, yen or yuan bonds could allow Egypt to attract a new type of investor as a three-year IMF-backed economic reform program agreed in late 2016 draws to a close.
Maait said Egypt’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product is on a downward trend and should drop to 77.5 percent by the end of June 2022. The debt-to-GDP ratio was at 9025 percent in the fiscal year that ended in June, he said.
“We would love to go for yuan and yen,” Maait said in a separate interview on the sidelines of the Euromoney Egypt investment conference.
“We tried last year, but there are a lot of requirements. We couldn’t get all the requirements done. If we can do it this year, we would love to see Egypt going to these markets.”
The ministry is also looking at issuing green bonds and sukuk, Islamic bonds, but is not committing to a specific type of bond issuance, Maait said.
“We are targeting something between 3 (billion dollars) as a minimum and 7 as a maximum,” he said.
Last year, the ministry issued more than $6 billion in international bonds.
“We may do the same this year — or lower than that or higher than that — but within this boundary,” Maait said, without giving more details.
He declined to give details on when any issuance would take place nor which markets would be targeted.
Egyptian officials have previously announced their intention to issue Islamic bonds, but the plans did not materialize. Maait said some progress has been made on the procedures necessary to issue bonds in yen and yuan but did not elaborate.


Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

Updated 21 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

  • South Korean and Japanese relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism
  • Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes
SEOUL: Japanese retail giant Uniqlo has pulled a commercial featuring a 98-year-old US fashion figure from South Korean screens, it said Monday after it was accused of whitewashing colonial history.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism.
The latest example is an advert for Uniqlo fleeces showing elderly fashion celebrity Iris Apfel chatting with designer Kheris Rogers, 85 years her junior.
The last line has the white-haired Apfel, asked how she used to dress as a teenager, innocuously responding: “Oh my God. I can’t remember that far back.”
But Uniqlo’s Korean arm subtitled its version of the ad slightly differently, reading: “I can’t remember things that happened more than 80 years ago.”
That would put the moment as 1939, toward the end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, where the period is still bitterly resented, and some South Koreans reacted furiously.
“A nation that forgets history has no future. We can’t forget what happened 80 years ago that Uniqlo made fun of,” commented one Internet user on Naver, the country’s largest portal.
The phrase “Uniqlo, comfort women,” in reference to women forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops during the Second World War, was among the most searched terms on Naver at the weekend, and demonstrators protested outside Uniqlo shops on Monday.
Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes, and South Korean consumers have mounted boycotts of Japanese products.
Uniqlo — which has 186 stores in South Korea — has itself been one of the highest-profile targets, while Japanese carmakers’ sales dropped nearly 60 percent year-on-year in September.
The company denied the allegations in a statement, saying the text was altered to highlight the age gap between the individuals and show that its fleeces were for people “across generations.”
“The ad had no intention whatsoever to imply anything” about colonial rule, a Uniqlo representative said on Monday, adding the firm had withdrawn the ad in an effort at damage control.
Analysts said the controversy demonstrated the politicization of the neighbors’ complex history.
The reaction was excessive, said Kim Sung-han, a former foreign affairs vice minister who teaches at Korea University, involving a “jump in logic” that “assumes everything Uniqlo does is political as a Japanese company.”
“I don’t see how her remark could be linked to the comfort women issue,” he added. “This is overly sensitive.”